MICRANT: Microplastics in Estarreja rivers and their role in the spread of pathogens and antibiotic resistance
Isabel Henriques
Marta Tacão; Isabel Silva; Filipa Bessa; Maria Paula Marques
Project type
Projet OHM
Biochimie, Biologie, Chimie, Génomique, Santé publique
The intense industrial activity in Estarreja region predictably resulted in contamination of aquatic systems with microplastics (MPs). These contaminants provide an ideal niche where pathogens and antibiotic resistant bacteria can proliferate, being transported along rivers and entering the food chain. However, risk assessment of MPs and associated microbes is limited by the scarce information available for these ecosystems. This project aims to determine the abundance and diversity of MPs in Estarreja rivers and to quantify and characterize pathogenic agents and antibiotic resistant bacteria associated to these contaminants. Mesocosm-based studies exposing MPs in rivers will also be carried out to compare the microbes that settle on different types of MPs and in different locations. MICRANT will provide solid quantitative and qualitative data for assessing and predicting the risks related to exposure to MPs and associated microbes.


Isabel Henriques
Isabel Henriques is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Life Sciences, University of Coimbra, where she is the director of the PhD programme in Biosciences. She is a Microbiologist, member of the Centre for Environmental and Marine Studies (CESAM), where she leads the “Microbial and Cell Biology Lab”. She earned her PhD in Biology in 2006 from the University of Aveiro. She was an Assistant Researcher at University of Aveiro (2013-2018) funded by the “FCT Investigator” program and acted as Special Visiting Researcher (2013-2016) at Federal University of Pará (Brazil) financed by the Brazilian government. Her research has been oriented to address the ecology of antibiotic resistance in the environment. She has been interested in the mechanisms of transfer and evolution of antibiotic resistance, and how environmental and anthropogenic factors affect these mechanisms. A main interest has also been the impact of global changes in the microbiome (including soil and water microbiome) and microbiomes’ role in adaptation of organisms (plants and animals) to stressors. She participated in several research projects funded by FCT (2 as PI and 9 as team member), by FCT through the Water JPI program (1 as PI at UA) and by CNRS-LAbex DRIIHM (2 as PI). She made important contributions to her field of research, which were published in more than 100 papers in WoS journals, cited more than 3100 times, corresponding to an H factor of 31. Supervises/co-supervises 6 PhD students (plus 7 concluded). Supervised more than 20 MSc students.


Marta Tacão is an Assistant Researcher at the Biology Department and the Centre for Environmental and Marine Studies (CESAM), at the University of Aveiro, Portugal, hired under the Scientific Employment Stimulus (CEEC 2020). Since 2014, she holds a PhD in Biology (specialization in microbiology), from the University of Aveiro, Portugal. She has participated in several projects financed by FCT (7), LAbex DRIIHM (2), and European commission (2). Currently she is the PI at UA of an FCT-funded project. Co-authored 36 papers in Web of Science (WoS) journals, with average citations per paper 23.6 and h-index is 17 (WoS, December 2021) and presented over 40 communications in international and national meetings. She supervises/co-supervises 4 PhD, 2 Msc and 1 final project students, and has supervised 10 Msc students.. Her research has been focused on understanding the role and impact of human activities in the dispersion of clinically relevant bacteria and antibiotic resistance in...
Isabel Silva is a PhD student at the University of Coimbra, Portugal, funded by an FCT PhD Scholarship (ref: SFRH/BD/ 144902/2019) to study the role of microplastics in the spread of pathogens and antibiotic resistance in aquatic systems. She holds a master’s degree in microbiology, from the University of Aveiro, Portugal since 2018 . She has participated as grant holder in two projects (METOXCLIM - Metal contamination in a global warming perspective: effects on soil properties and relation with toxicity changes; and
Antibiotic resistance in aquatic systems: quantify risks and outline solutions). She co-authored 4 papers in WoS journals and presented 11 communications in international and national meetings. Her research has been focused on the characterization of microbial communities in natural environments, on the impact of anthropogenic contaminants on microbial communities, and on the dissemination of genetic determinants of antibiotic resistance in aquatic environments.
Filipa Bessa main scientific focus is related with the assessment of the anthropogenic pressures in coastal and marine ecosystems, in particular, the assessment of plastic and microplastic pollution in several aquatic environments, their interactions with biota, their potential effects and the integration of mitigation measures against pollution by using innovative tools for their analyses (drones and citizen science). She authored and co-authored a total of 23 peer reviewed scientific publications. Her current publication metrics based on Scopus is H- index = 12 and the number of citations is 605. She participated as author and coauthor of 5 scientific reports (3 with DOI). From these, two reports in the frame of BASEMAN project - BASEMAN - Defining the baselines and standards for microplastics analyses in European waters (JPIOCEANS/0001/2015) related with harmonization of protocols for sampling and analyzing microplastics in water and biota. As scientific expert, she was invited...
Maia Paula
Maria Paula M. Marques received her MSc in Physical-Chemistry (1987), her PhD in Biochemistry (1995) and her habilitation in Biosciences (2018) from the University of Coimbra (Portugal). M.P.M. Marques is currently an associate professor at the Dep. Life Sciences of the University of Coimbra, assistant-coordinator of the R&D Group “Molecular Physical-Chemistry” (QFM-UC) and head of the “Chemoprevention, -Therapy & -Toxicology” laboratory. QFM-UC encompasses the vibrational spectroscopy laboratory VIBIMA (Vibrational Spectroscopy Laboratory for Bioprobing) which is a facility of excellence in the field of optical vibrational spectroscopy, comprising state-of-the-art versatile equipment: both macro- and microRaman and FTIR (far and mid-IR, with transmission and ATR configurations).
M.P.M. Marques has authored about 175 scientific papers, 8 book chapters and co-edited 3 books. She is a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, a member of the Clinical Infrared and Raman...